15 July 2014
Dear Ms. Lee:
I just wanted you to know I will NOT be reading the book, THE MOCKINGBIRD NEXT DOOR, by Marja Mills. This is no sacrifice, as you told us all in 2011 that you had not given that woman access to your life except as a neighbor, and that any writing she did was unauthorized snooping.
How lowering it must be, to realize that a woman has befriended someone in your circle of family and friends, merely to validate her stalking, predatory and downright creepy need to delve into your life and peer into your past. I resent this so fiercely on your behalf — it is your right to be as reclusive and introverted as a blind mole, should the mood take you. What is WRONG with this society? Why can we not leave people alone??? Why must we assume everyone wants to be Facebooked, Tweeting, instant-instagrammed and dissected, splayed and pinned on a vivisectionist’s board? How gauche and galling of Penguin to go on, marketing the book as a cozy peep into your private world, a guided tour of YOU by a dear and trusted friend, when it is in nowise any such thing?
What an offensive, egregious thing our curiosity has become! It seems our society believes that a celebrated individual who withdraws from interviews and cameras is somehow slyly managing a public relations stunt, and feeding an enormous ego, instead of perhaps truly not wishing to have their every move tracked and reported. The voracious maw of celebrity news is always nibbling, chewing, ravaging, always greedily clawing for more.
So, Ms. Lee, I am resolved: I will not read the book. I will not acknowledge it, nor comment upon when others bring it up. I will, instead, reread your beautifully poised classic novel, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and marvel again over the spare, evocative sentences that painted such a vivid picture of innocence and angst in a sleepy Southern town, of fear of the unknown twisted into bigoted, posturing rage, of childhood innocence, racial prejudice, and the shining spark of human goodness that withstood the engrained stench of an old evil.
With well-deserved and heartfelt thanks for your exquisite body of work,
Your deeply respectful admirer, whose affection compels her never to mail this.